This is the thirtieth part of a fiction serial, in 700 words.
He handed over the cash as agreed, and the pikey boy gave him both sets of keys and the log book. Knowing full well it was unlikely to be registered to him, Tony didn’t even bother to ask. He would place the car on his insurance when the office opened on Tuesday. Luckily, Kevin from work had been free to run him over to the funfair, so once the Cortina started up, he called over to his colleague. “Thanks, Kev, see you at work”. The petrol gauge was still showing half full, so that was a bonus.
Anthony Barrett was a collector, and his choice was very specific. He collected Ford Cortina cars. This mainly came from his experience of working on them in his job at Sleaford Ford, where he had worked since leaving school and starting as an apprentice. Now thirty-seven years old, he was the senior mechanic, known to everyone as ‘Foreman Tony’. For some time, he had been trying to buy the early Consul Cortina model. He already had a sixty-six Cortina GT, a Mark 2 1600E from nineteen seventy, and a Mark 3 1600 GXL that was only a year old, and used as the family car. He was very happy with his new find. It was in great condition, and he would have paid a lot more for it, if that boy had known what he was selling.
His wife Annie had put up with his tinkering on cars since their first date. The old Anglia had broken down on the way to taking her home, and Tony had rolled up his sleeves and disappeared under the bonnet for almost an hour while she sat shivering in the passenger seat. Now they lived in something resembling a car dealership, with a row of cars along the side of their council house in Sleaford, and a massive shed at the end of the driveway that looked like a fully-equipped workshop. But Annnie counted her blessings. Tony was a good man. He didn’t drink or smoke, didn’t go to football matches, or play darts with his mates down the pub. He was also a good dad to Melanie, even if it was no secret he would have preferred a son to a daughter.
There wasn’t much money left for holidays or luxuries, as it all went on the cars. Tony told her that one day they would be worth a lot of money to collectors, but she doubted he could ever bear to part with any of them. And now he had another one. Still, she had gone back to work once Melanie had started school, and her job as a school secretary at the secondary modern meant she didn’t have to pay for childcare in the holidays. It hadn’t been an easy birth seven years ago, and when she had talked about having another baby, Tony had shaken his head. “Not worth the chance of losing you, sweetheart”.
The first job was to get the ugly towbar off, then fill and rub down the holes it left, ready for priming and repainting. Then Tony fitted the badge bar and placed his vintage AA badge in position on it. He wanted to get the car looking good for the Cortina Owner’s Club Rally in October. Ron Markham had a Consul version, but it was factory white, and a bit faded. This dark green beauty was sure to put Ron’s nose out of joint. Annie was used to keeping his dinner warm. She had given up going out to call him in when it was ready, knowing he would only appear when he had finished whatever he was doing.
So she dished up for her and Melanie. Then before her daughter’s bedtime, she helped her with placing the new furniture in the doll’s house that Tony had made for her fifth birthday.
When he finally turned up in the kitchen, Annie rescued his dinner from the oven as he washed his hands at the sink. “It’s not very appetising, love. But it’s been warmed up for so long now”. Tony smiled. “Not to worry, sweetheart, I’ll just go up and kiss Mel goodnight, then I’ll eat it”.